Digital technology can enable virtual friendships that lead to meetings, support social learning, and underpin projects for new forms of sharing both on the physical world and online. The greatest benefits may come from blending face-to-face and online activities.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has explored neighbourhood approaches to loneliness in four areas over three years, and being older tops the list of factors contributing to loneliness. The research is revealing ideas on how a neighbourhood can support people who are lonely - some of which may be supported by technology.
From evidence elsewhere, a mix of texts, phone calls, online networking, visits and informal get-togethers can help build a social network through which people can provide mutual support.
Contributors on the Gransnet forum say how important virtual friendships can be - while also emphasising the importance of physical presence. Innovative projects are now being developed that use digital technology to encourage and support local connections.
DropBy online is a supportive online community, with chat rooms and special interest groups that also encourages get-togethers. Other projects use online systems to facilitate meeting and sharing: meals (Casserole Club); accommodation (Room for Tea); cooks tips and collaborative cooking sessions (League of meals)
Shirley Ayres, whose blog focuses on sharing resources to promote the use of social media in social care, provides an excellent roundup of these and projects showing How the Internet and digital technology can combat isolation.
Comments, resources and links to ideas on Storify - and embedded below\ Challenge: how can we build on successful personal and project experience so far to scale up the use of digital technology to address problems of social isolation and loneliness.\ View the story “6 Address social isolation by blending online and offline” on Storify